Sunday, March 08, 2009

Nearly there

A Work in Progress
Copyright Laura Hardie 2009

Not much more to go now but thought I would show another work in progress stage before unveiling the completed portrait which, all going well, should be finished tomorrow.

The more I look at this scanned image and those on my website (some of which are terrible) the more determined I am to find out how to get good photos, or scans, of graphite pencil drawings. Surely there is a way that isn’t too technical for me to deal with.

I like to keep a record of every drawing or painting that I do and that includes a good copy of the original, either scanned or photographed, which can be used on such things as my website, for advertising and marketing purposes, for exhibition entries or to be turned into prints. The image therefore needs to be true to the original in colour and detail and while I do need to work on photographing artwork as a whole I feel I fall way short when it comes to my graphite drawings. A bad scan or photo isn’t helping me and doesn’t show my work to it’s best potential.

So with the above in mind I’m going to dedicate a couple of days playing with my camera first and seeing what I come up with. I can’t help feeling that a lot of the work will need to be done in Photoshop – my Achilles heel – in which case it could take a lot longer than a couple of days to get right. My main problem, as I see it, are the white backgrounds that are a feature in the majority of my drawings and getting the camera or scanner to keep them white while keeping everything else in the drawing correct and true to the original. Large white areas can confuse the camera – not sure what happens with the scanner – and it should just be a case of getting the right exposure and light to take the photo in. Right?

I can tell this could take quite a while so any helpful advice would be gratefully received. And of course anything I learn on this journey will be shared here for all to see.


Grahame Butler said...

Hi Laura

Last year I attended Mike Sibley's weekend workshop and will be attending again in may, since then we have kept in touch via email, I have had the same problems as you with getting my whites white, I spoke to Mike about it and I have attatched the email he sent me hope this help. Grahame
Hi Gahame,

My fix for white backgrounds in PS is as follows - this is full version (you'd already worked on the image I altered for you):

1. If the image is graphite then convert to Greyscale (Image > Mode > Greyscale). This cuts the file size by two thirds and speeds up the following.

2. Hit CTRL+L for Levels, hold down the ALT key and move the right hand slider to the left.. When you begin to remove anything from the drawing itself, stop and back off a little.

3. Hit D to change colours to default Black foreground, White background, then L for Lasso. Draw around all the white you can. Right-click and choose "invert" then hit the delete key.

4. Zoom in to an area of the image so you can see a portion of the image and its dark background halo.

5. Now the magic bit....

6. Hit O for the Dodge tool. Set the tool as follows:
Range: Highlights
Exposure: 5%

7. Now choose a BIG fuzzy brush - but not so big you can't see all of it :o)

8. Use it like an eraser, moving up and down the 'halo' and it will gradually fade. It doesn't matter if you overlap the drawing part, as it shouldn't harm it. Release the mouse often and click again, so you have smaller Undo steps should you need to backtrack.

It takes practice but it's very effective!

9. When you've removed the halo, zoom out until you can see all of the image. Now you can use CTRL+L (Levels) again or (my preference) wipe over the whole area with the Dodge tool to brighten it as required.

10. Finally resize to suit the requirement then sharpen using Unsharp Mask. I keep the Unsharp Mask permanently set to 5%, which sharpens just a little. Then just use CTRL+F repeatedly to sharpen again and again until it looks good.

I do use other methods and variations on the above but that's my most used method. I hope it helps.

Laura said...

Hi Grahame

Thank you - this is FANTASTIC, just what I need and it doesn't look too complicated either which is a bonus:) This will be printed off and tried and tested for sure.

Thanks again and lucky you for going to one of Mike's workshops - this too has been something I've been wanting to do. He's a master with the pencils:)

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

What depth and realism! This is a sensational portrait!

Jennifer Rose said...

oh he looks great! :D

thank you Grahame for posting that info, very helpful

Lene said...

A wonderful portrait Laura

Laura said...

Thank you Gail, Jennifer and Lene - your comments are much appreciated:)